The short Kremlin readout from this meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, released in tandem with the above photo, was very short: “Mr Putin and Ms Merkel discussed possibilities for settling the crisis in Ukraine.”
Both were in France for the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the allied forces’ D-Day landing in Normandy.
Merkel, who speaks fluent Russian, was also witnessed being a referee and coach in a sidelines conversation with Putin and new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Putin continually tries to intimidate Merkel, but she remains the leader most capable of dealing with him. In fact, he’s a real jerk about trying to intimidate her:
Merkel and Vladimir Putin go back further than you might think. He was a KGB agent in East Germany when the wall fell and he certainly wasn’t happy about it. Perhaps the rivalry has its roots in the dark shadows of the cold war. Merkel, the greatest benefactor of the 89-revolution, got a taste of his intimidatory tactics very early. When she visited the Kremlin for the first time as chancellor, Putin gave her a plush toy dog as a gift. Merkel became deeply afraid of dogs after she was bitten in the mid 90s. But Putin didn’t stop there. The next meeting, at his summer residence on the Black Sea, he let in his black Labrador Kony, an intimidating species. Merkel sat frozen, and pictures show Putin with a sardonic grin on his face, legs widely stretched.
But the fact that she didn’t back down, and despite their other clashes, and the fact that he still throws his dogs at her, Putin “respects her more than the other leaders.” She also never offered him a red plastic reset button.